This story is a couple of weeks old, but it is still relevant in light of the ongoing French headscarf controversy. In the Indonesian suburb of Tangerang, the headscarf is being imposed — possibly on non-Muslims as well as Muslims. This from AsiaNews, with thanks to Nancy Block:
The mayor of Tangerang, a suburb of Jakarta, ordered all public employees to cover their heads and respect Islamic dress code on Fridays.
Friday is the holy day for Muslims. Women will be asked to wear Islamic headscarves and long-sleeved shirts to cover their arms; men will have to wear Islamic loose-fitting shirts. The mayor’s spokesman, Achmad Chairuddin, told the Jakarta Post that “the new arrangement is a direct order from the mayor…Muslim dress reflects the municipality’s devout image.”
It is still not known if the rule is also true for Christian, Hindu and Buddhist employees.
Until now, state workers in Tangerang have all worn brown uniforms from Monday to Thursday and green ones on Friday.
Even if Indonesia is a secular state and Islam is only one of five officially-recognized religions, in recent years some local councils have started imposing Islamic dress and behavior codes to increase their image and popularity..
Last year the mayor of West Jakarta gave orders requiring students to respect Islamic dress habits on Fridays. Yet criticism came pouring in from other religious groups, accusing him of discrimination. The mayor then went back on his decree.
Also some districts, like West Java, Indramayu and Cianjur, have introduced Islamic laws which force state employees to wear Islamic dress every Friday and close offices to allow time for prayer. The local governments in Pamekasan, East Java, have moreover suggested that its employees hold monthly readings of the Koran.
Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, is the only province in which the Islamic sharia law is applied. Jakarta’s central government has accepted application of the sharia law as a compromise to appease a region marked by separatist conflicts for 27 years. Aceh has been under martial law since last May, yet Islamic sharia law has never become operational in a court of law.